Conference Call: Collectively committed

After watching his side cruise into the FA Cup fourth round with a 4-1 win over Peterborough, Antonio Conte said there were many reasons to be positive, particularly given the return from injury of Kurt Zouma.

Pedro scored twice, with Michy Batshuayi and Willian also on target, as a much-changed Chelsea side returned to winning ways with a clinical display.

‘I am pleased with our performance and the result,’ said the Italian. ‘I’m pleased because we’re in the next round of this competition. Today we changed nine players because I had the opportunity to see some players who haven’t played a lot. I saw a lot of positive things. We faced a good team but we showed great commitment and showed we were a team. That’s the most important thing because when you change nine players it’s not easy to quickly find your idea of football. Now it’s important to continue.

‘Zouma came back after 11 months and played 90 minutes, which is fantastic for him, his family and the club. The young players – Chalobah, Ruben and Aina - showed me they are growing. Michy played a good game and scored a goal, so there were a lot of positives.’

The only disappointment of the afternoon was a red card for John Terry, which Conte felt was undeserved.

‘I think the decision wasn’t right. Firstly, he didn’t take the opponent and secondly behind John was Ivanovic to cover. It’s a pity when this happens. When you get a red card it’s not good, you have to respect the referee’s decision, but in this case maybe we will appeal because the situation is very clear, John didn’t deserve this.’

Conte was then asked about Terry’s long-term future at the club, with his contract running until the end of the season.

‘Now we are in January. First of all, these decisions need to be made with the club, not alone. I’m pleased for John because he’s shown me great commitment when I’ve asked him to play and also when he doesn’t. He’s helping me a lot in the changing room. He’s proving himself to be a good player and, above all, a good man.’

Conte praised the performance of Batshuayi, who completed the full game

‘Michy played a good game. During the game he stayed with our philosophy and idea of football. He showed me great commitment and work-rate and it’s always important for a forward’s confidence to score. He has to continue to work in this way. He’s young, he’s improving and he showed that today. It’s important for him to give me the opportunity to have another solution.’

The Blues boss also explained why Dutchman Nathan Ake has been recalled from his loan spell at Bournemouth

‘I called him back because I think he’s showing that he’s ready to stay in the squad of Chelsea. Chelsea is his home. In the last season he played with Watford, and this season he was with Bournemouth. He’s shown he deserves to stay at a great team like Chelsea. I’m pleased he’s come back.

‘Ake gives me an important option because we are playing with three central defenders. He can play on the left and in the middle. It’s important to see in training sessions if he can also play wing-back.’

Conte added that the club will strengthen the squad if possible, but said the current market is a difficult one

‘My club knows my opinion. In January it’s not easy. In this window it’s very difficult to find great players but we are seeing if we are able to find the opportunity to improve this team. We will continue with these players, Ake is coming back and Kenedy and Musonda are working with us. It’s important for me to evaluate this profile and make the best decision.

‘We are at the top of the table with this squad and I’m grateful to my players for this. If we find the opportunity to improve the squad, we will do it, but I’m very happy to work with this group of players.’